Extreme Science: Kinetic Race - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Extreme Science: Kinetic Race

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What you will need:
  • Various sizes of marbles and/or steel ball bearings
  • Hot wheels ® racetrack
  • Book (or something to prop up one end of the track)
  • Plastic container or small plastic or paper cup cut in half
  • Two or more yardsticks
  • Scissors
  • Adult supervision

Optional

  • Ping pong ball
  • Golf ball
  • Tennis ball

Procedure:

1. Cut your paper cup or container in half as shown:

2. Place the race track on the floor with one end propped up on your book(s)

3. Place one half of a cup on the floor at the bottom of the track making sure that the open end is facing your track

4. Place a yardstick on each side of the cup allowing approximately ½” space between the cup and each yardstick.

5. Place a marble or steel bearing at the top end of the track and release it as shown:

What is going on?

By placing the ball or marble on top of the ramp we are able to investigate the change from potential energy into kinetic energy by simply releasing the ball. Once the ball is released it rolls down the ramp into the catch cup pushing it for a distance, and eventually loosing its' energy due to friction. The more energy the ball has, the farther it will push the cup.

Try this:

This would be an excellent beginner science fair project! Once you have your ramp set up, you can place various sized marbles, steel bearings and balls on the top of the ramp and hypothesize how far you think each one will push the catch cup. Make sure that you always use the same catch cup so that you are not changing the weight of the cup being pushed. Once you have collected all of your data and have determined how far each one pushed the cup, hypothesize how much you would have to change the angle of the ramp (add books to make the beginning of the ramp higher) for each various ball to make them all stop within an inch or two of each other. Get creative and figure out what else you can change to get different results. What other variables are there? For example, does it matter what size catch cup you use?

Radical Rick
Extreme Science
www.ExtremeScienceFun.com
509-892-7621

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